Denver Broncos: Pat Surtain II’s most underrated trait

Denver Broncos rookie 1st-round pick Pat Surtain II. Mandatory Credit: Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports
Denver Broncos rookie 1st-round pick Pat Surtain II. Mandatory Credit: Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports /

When the Denver Broncos used the 9th overall pick in the 2021 NFL Draft on Alabama cornerback Pat Surtain II, some labeled the former Crimson Tide star a ‘safe’ first pick for George Paton. Although you can look at it both ways, many were criticizing the pick for being ‘safe’ when Paton could have gone after Ohio State quarterback Justin Fields, who was on the board for the Broncos as well.

Call the pick whatever you want to call it, the fact of the matter is that Pat Surtain was arguably the best defensive player in the entire 2021 Draft class, and one of the ‘safest’ picks in terms of being a flat out stud with very few holes in his game whatsoever.

Surtain really has it all — size, speed, technique, competitive drive, production, you name it. This guy is the total package, but there’s one piece of his overall makeup that is underrated but will be crucial to his long-term success.

Despite having every reason to be loud and even over-confident, Surtain has the quiet and humble approach of an undrafted player fighting his way into the rotation.

Surtain is the son of a former NFL player. He was an immediate impact starter for Nick Saban’s Alabama Crimson Tide as a teenager. He’s looked like an NFL player since he was a true freshman in college both physically and in the way that he plays the game.

He’s been considered a “safe” or “sure-fire” prospect for a long time now, and none of that has gone to his head, even a little bit.

Surtain is taking the undrafted player’s approach but carrying a veteran-like presence with the way that he prepares, practices, and speaks.

This mentality is not just Surtain trying to say the right things to the media. He’s been modeling it and demonstrating it. Defensive coordinator Ed Donatell can attest.

"Well he came in here with a great foundation. He comes from a great family, lineage with his father, excellent parents. Then he goes to Alabama and plays the whole time there, starts every game at a high level, against top players in practice. He’s been exposed to very good coaching in college. Then you come in here, and he’s a guy that’s very calm, reserved. I wouldn’t say reserved, but he’s respectful of others, and he’s just a very hard-working, serious player. So he has everything that can point to success, and not to mention he’s a heck of an athlete. He’s fitting in great with our guys, and he’ll work to get a strong role.Ed Donatell, via Broncos PR"

This kind of approach, again, is something that is going to help Surtain carve out a very long career in the NFL. For the Denver Broncos, his humility and willingness to do what it takes to earn reps whether that means playing inside as a nickel or dime defensive back will endear him to the coaching staff and keep him on the path to super-stardom.

The way Surtain carries himself is certainly atypical of guys coming into the NFL at his age. He does not seem like he’s going to be overwhelmed by the speed of the game or the change from college to the NFL.

Having a rookie with this level of maturity cannot be overstated.